A black man refuses to stand for the National Anthem at a football game. The media and the general public erupt with insults, derogatory names, and statements regarding his commitment to his team, his country, and even whether or not he should be allowed to live in the United States.
He kneeled. During a football game. Silently.
A couple of days ago, I watched from about 300 ft. away as a protest blocked the middle of a main road in Charlotte, NC. This directly followed someone – a black man – being shot by an officer in an apartment complex and a black man being shot and killed after getting out of his car for help in Tulsa, OK.
The protests have evolved into nothing short of riots – civilians blocked off major highways, damaging police cars and the vehicles of random passer-bys. There were fires everywhere. Screaming. Pushing. Men were shot in the Epicenter (the “downtown” area of Charlotte), one by another civilian. My friend was Facetiming me and I watched our phone connection die and heard her voice get cut off abruptly. When she connected again, she had been running to avoid getting tear gassed.
They protested. After yet another case of police brutality against black people. Loudly.
I have a question: what is your suggestion? My Facebook feed is exploding with complaints over missing the National Anthem. My Facebook feed is exploding with complaints over rioting and looting stores. While I do not agree that hurting others, looting, and causing damage to property is acceptable, I want to know: what IS?
We are discussing a population group that has been significantly oppressed for more than 300 years. Three HUNDRED. They are angry, I’m sure. They are exhausted, I know. And when this population group wants justice, we turn our backs and shake our fingers, asking them to “try another way.”
I have a question: WHAT other way? Do you know how these people can demand justice and equality without being taunted, teased, bullied, violated, even killed?
As a white person, I have absolutely no room to explore or express what is a right or wrong way for this population group to demand equality.
They are silent, we are outraged. They are loud, we are disgusted.
Don’t you DARE tell this community how to react. Or demand equality. Or search for answers. Because they have been reacting and demanding and searching for all of their lives.
Accept diversity. Allow those that are different from you a space to talk. Listen when they ask for help. Did you read that? LISTEN. Do your research. Have compassion for others. And do not mock demands for justice because that justice has yet to be achieved. And it’s about damn time.
I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council or the Ku Klux Klan, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says ‘I agree with you and the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action’ ; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a ‘more convenient season,’ Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”
Martin Luther King from his jail cell in Birmingham.